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Choosing sides. Abhisit Vejjajiva will have to choose after Sunday.

The Thaiger

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Choosing sides. Abhisit Vejjajiva will have to choose after Sunday. | The Thaiger
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PHOTO: The Nation

Sunday’s election will not be the end, it will only be another episode in a two-decade long drama as Thailand struggles with democracy and attempts to throw off the shackles of nearly a century of military tampering in political affairs.

Thailand’s oldest political party, the Democrats, head into Sunday’s election with leader Abhisit Vejjajiva facing some tough decisions in the first poll since the 2014 coup.

At one end of the political spectrum in Thailand are the pro-military, pro-status quo parties. At the other are the pro-democracy, pro-Thaksin parties. And between them, the Democrats trying to find some political middle ground.

The way the votes are likely to fall, no party will have enough seats in the new lower house of the Thai parliament. There will have to be some long phone calls and concessions made by everyone to cobble together a workable coalition. Either way, the Democrats are likely to be the ones roped into any coalition – they won’t get enough votes to win government but will have a substantial handful to bargain their place at the table.

Either way they are going to upset a sizable majority of the pro-military or pro-democracy parties. And the Democrat voters won’t be happy with they party leaders getting cosy with the opposition parties.

But Abhisit Vejjajiva argues that there is a scenario that could return him to the PMs office, which he held from 2008 to 2011 after a court dissolved a pro-Thaksin government.

“We will be the alternative in leading Thailand out of the last decade of troubles.”

But the polls and pundits say this scenario is unlikely.

The March 24 election is being billed by the NCPO as returning south east Asia’s second-largest economy to civilian and democratic rule. But the new constitution, overseen by the generals simply enshrines military influence over politics. Whilst it will be a free and fair vote for the lower house of government, the upper house of 250 military Senators is already set in stone.

Abhisit this month said in a campaign video he would not support Prayut Chan-o-cha staying on as PM, which he said will “breed conflict and is against the Democrat party’s principle that the people have the power”.

But at the same time, Abhisit made it clear he would be loath to work with the main pro-Thaksin party, Pheu Thai. The Democrats have long decried the Thaksin movement as corrupt and a threat to independent democratic institutions.

“I don’t want dictatorship and I don’t want corrupt people,” Abhisit said.

“Corrupt politicians provided the pretexts for the military to stage all the coups in the last 20 years.”

So here I am, stuck in the middle with you!

The biggest problem Abhisit faces next Sunday is an electorate that has become increasingly polarised, and the middle ground, with all the best intentions in the world, being lost in the background noise of the bitter political struggle.

There is no doubt that the charismatic Abhisit Vejjajiva, and his party members, will be a part of any new co-alition following the election – they will have numbers and numbers count. But the Democrat vision, one of the oldest political visions in Thailand, will be lost amongst the ongoing battle between the pro-Thaksin and pro-military voices.

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Politics

Thanathorn disqualified as Member of Parliament – Thai Constitutional Court

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Thanathorn disqualified as Member of Parliament – Thai Constitutional Court | The Thaiger

Leader of the Future Forward Party, 41 year old Thanathorn Jungroongruangkit, has been disqualified as a Member of Parliament following the handing down of a guilty verdict by the Thai Constitutional Court today.

The Court’s findings say Thanathorn was still holding shares in a media company when he registered to run in the March 24 national election. Thanathorn presented evidence during hearings into case declaring that he’d divested himself of any company shares before the calling of the election.

Constitutional pundits say the ruling now paves the way for Thanathorn to be charged under Article 151 of the Elections Act which specifies a jail term of up to 10 years and a political ban for 20 years for anyone found guilty of registering to run in MP elections while knowing that he or she is not qualified.

Thanathorn was originally accused by the Election Commission of still holding 675,000 shares in his family-owned V Luck Media Company when he registered to run in the general election in March this year.

During his defence Thanathorn insisted that the company was not a mass media entity in the general sense as it published only an in-flight magazine and a glossy franchised lifestyle magazine. He also presented evidence that he had transferred all the shares in question to his mother prior to registering to run in the election.

Article 98 of the Constitution prohibits proprietors or share-holders of media companies to run in elections out of fear they would have undue political influence, according to Thai PBS World.

The court dismissed Thanathorn’s defence on both points and revoked his status as an elected MP effective as of May 23 when he was suspended from active duty as MP after the Election Commission made the charges.

Hundreds of supporters of Future Forward Party showed disappointment as they listened to the verdict broadcast on close-circuit TV in the lobby of the Constitutional Court under tight security. Representatives from the US Embassy and EU in Bangkok were also seen attending the session as observers.

Despite his absence from the Parliamentary chamber, and his suspension as an MP at the time, Thanathorn narrowly missed being elected as the Thai PM in the first sitting of the new Parliament.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

Thanathorn disqualified as Member of Parliament - Thai Constitutional Court | News by The Thaiger

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School funding challenge for bilingual curriculum

Maya Taylor

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School funding challenge for bilingual curriculum | The Thaiger

The secretary-general of the Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC), Amnat Wichayanuwat, says plans to introduce a bilingual school curriculum at all grade levels have thrown up an obstacle for meeting funding requirements.

The bilingual curriculum plans were announced by the Education Minister last week in an effort to improve English proficiency among the Thai population. It’s hoped to have the curriculum in place from kindergarten level at more than 2,000 district schools from the beginning of the 2020 academic year.

However, the OBEC secretary-general says one of the conditions under which schools can qualify for Mini English Programme (MEP) funding, is by showing that Ordinary National Educational Test (O-NET) scores have consistently improved for at least three years.

Amnat says it’s simply not possible for schools to meet this requirement.

“This is impossible because these schools haven’t even started with the new lessons. To launch the MEP classrooms efficiently, we will therefore adjust the qualification and submit it to the Provincial Schools Admission Committee for consideration.”

Amnat says OBEC will reinstate provincial English Resource and Instruction Centres to help determine the curriculum. He draws attention to the need to examine English language proficiency in both teachers and students and work on areas that need improvement.

“And there will be an English proficiency assessment using the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages standard. This will expand the opportunities for education and create equality among educational institutes.”

Thailand was recently ranked 74 out of 100 on the English language proficiency index, with its ranking continuing to drop for three years in a row.

See earlier story HERE.

SOURCE:nationthailand.com

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Palang Pracharat are warned not to renege on Thai ministry promises

The Thaiger

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Palang Pracharat are warned not to renege on Thai ministry promises | The Thaiger

Amidst rumours circulating that the Palang Pracharat Party may renege on some of the promises it made to secure MP votes from the Democrats and Bhumjaithai, the Democrat party leader Jurin Laksanavisit says he believes the Palang Pracharat party will keep its promises.

Thepthai Senpong MP, a key Democrat party member, is warning that the coalition government will be in big trouble if the promise is broken. He says the coalition government would “function with great difficulty” if the Palang Pracharat party does not stick to the promises it made to the Democrats, according to Thai PBS.

Meanwhile, Somsak Thepsutin, one of the Sam Mitr faction within Palang Pracharat, says that if one of their group isn’t offered the agriculture minister’s post (reportedly offered to the Democrats as part of the ‘deal’), the promises they made with Thai voters during the election campaign could be affected.

Somsak has already spoken of his aspirations to become the next agriculture minister, despite the portfolio being used as a political football during negotiations with the Democrats.

But the new leader of the Democrats, Jurin Laksanavisit insists that the issue of the quota of ministries for his MPs has already been settled. He re-iterated yesterday that Palang Pracharat would not go back on its promises to the Democrats. He added that he had not been informed of any changes to their arrangements despite being aware of the media reports about the prevarication.

SOURCES: Thai PBS | The Nation

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